WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: (In progress)—have had a series of meetings here in Washington, also in New York. And this—we will be continuing with these meetings as we go forward. We try to cover a variety of topics from a variety of perspectives as we do this.
Today’s meeting is a very special one. We have with us Luis Lugo, who is the director of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. And the Pew Forum under Luis’s leadership has just published what is really the first serious, substantial study of global Pentecostalism. And for those of you who haven’t seen the study, it is available; you can download all 226 pages—am I right?—from the Internet, if your printer, you know, has a few free moments. And you can also—there’s an executive summary which is also available.
This is really a terrific study and I want to congratulate Luis on conceptualizing it and carrying it through. It’s enormously difficult.
Our format today is what we call our conversation format, where I will open with a few questions for Luis, and then we will go to a broader discussion. And I want to start with maybe the most basic questions here.
You talk about in this survey Pentecostals, charismatics, renewalists and non-renewalists. Who are we talking about? What does these terms mean?
LUIS LUGO: That’s as simple as we could make it, actually, Walter. (Audio break)—struggle long and hard over how to identify and label a movement that in fact is very diverse.
The core of it, of course, is what we call classical Pentecostalism, which in its modern form originated 100 years ago this year with the famous Azusa Street revivals in Los Angeles, and from there it has literally caught fire and spread throughout the world and influenced not only the growth of Pentecostal churches and denominations, but it’s had a profound impact, as our survey documents, in non-Pentecostal denominations. And those are the people, Walter, we call charismatics. They accept many of the beliefs and practices of Pentecostalism, but they don’t leave their established denominations, such as Catholicism or Presbyterianism, or Methodism in the case of Chile. So it’s—you know, it’s the impact of Pentecostalism within non-Pentecostal churches. When you add them both together, Pentecostals and charismatics together, we refer to them as renewalists. On some issues they’re very close to each other; on other issues they’re not very close, and we try to make that distinction throughout the report.
MEAD: Okay. Now, this thing started about 100 years ago. You have some estimates of the size of the total renewalist population in the world. How many people is that?
LUGO: Well, according to the World Christian Database—we did not do a global estimate. This would take a lot longer than we were able to devote to this. And the World Christian Database conservatively estimates this movement—that is, Pentecostals plus charismatics, at upwards of 500 million. So we’re talking within 100 years. No wonder everybody refers to it as the fastest growing religious movement in the world, and all the evidence suggests that it is.
In those countries that we surveyed, the 10 countries, we did very careful demographic analysis, and I would say that on the whole, our numbers for those countries conform to the World Christian Database numbers. We were higher in some, like Guatemala, lower in some, but on the whole they tended to line up fairly well with the numbers provided by the World Christian Database.
MEAD: Now, did you poll in these—you polled the entire population in a representative sample in a country like Guatemala or Nigeria?
LUGO: Correct. Correct. These were nationally representative samples for the majority of these countries. A couple of them we did urban only, but the pollsters who work in these countries say this is a very good measure of where Pentecostalism is in each of them. And for two of those countries, actually, the percentage of the population that’s urbanized is over 80 percent, so we have a fairly good sense of that. The only exception, Walter, was India, where it’s not even statewide; it was local, because, you know, if we did it statewide we wouldn’t find very many, so we really were going after those areas where we suspected we would find the most.
MEAD: So this would be Kerala? Goa, maybe?
LUGO: Yes, in three states in India. We actually— Goa is heavily Catholic. We didn’t even do Goa. We did three—
LUGO: Meghalaya, right.
MEAD: I’m guessing—
LUGO: That’s right. No, that’s very good. And so we focused specifically in those areas within those states where there’s a large percentage of Christian population.
MEAD: Okay, right. So the Indian samples need to be read very differently.
LUGO: Absolutely, but we make that very clear in the report.
MEAD: In Nigeria, did your estimates of Christian-Muslim population; how do they tally with various census and other reports? Because I know in Nigeria that’s very controversial.
LUGO: It’s so controversial that in the recently completed census they didn’t even ask religion questions. Obviously, there’s huge implications for the country. And our best sense is that it’s fairly evenly divided, perhaps tilting a little way towards the Christian side, but fairly even in its distribution, countrywide. Obviously, in the south, you have a much higher concentration of Christians; in the north, a much higher concentration of Muslims.
MEAD: Okay. I always have questions about religious demography, and pardon me for abusing your time with this private obsession, but it seems so, you know, so difficult to get a clear answer. In a poll in the U.S. where you ask somebody, “Are you born again?” okay, you’ve got some people who are going to say, “Yes, hallelujah, praise the Lord, I am,” and then you’re going to have some other people who say, “Well, I suppose, you know, if you really look at sacramental theology, yes, but please don’t tell anybody I just told you that.” And they mean quite different things. What—how did you ask people, are you a Pentecostal or a charismatic or a renewalist? How did you do that?
LUGO: Very, very good question. One of the most challenging things in this survey is finding out who precisely should fit under these categories. Now, the Pentecostals were fairly easy to determine, because we simply asked, you know, what church or denomination do you belong to. And if they belonged to a Pentecostal denomination, we counted them as Pentecostal. Assemblies of God, for instance, which is the largest predominantly white Pentecostal denomination in this country, is represented in many of these countries. And if they said they belonged to the Assemblies of God—let’s say, in South Korea or in Brazil—they’d get counted as Pentecostals.
Also, many of the new churches—one of the most interesting developments is that Pentecostalism has gone beyond the classical Pentecostal churches to a lot of new denominations and movements. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Brazil, for instance, is growing by leaps and bounds, and now sending missionaries throughout the world. That was also pretty easy. Where it really got dicey, Walter, is how do we classify and identify these charismatics. Because remember, they’re not part of Pentecostal denominations, but they partake in many of the same practices. So we had to ask a battery of questions to see whether we could classify them as such or not, and some of the questions didn’t work particularly well, and frankly, we haven’t reported on all the questions. Like, if you ask people whether they had been “baptized in the spirit,” which people typically use, you know, that means a lot of things to a lot of people, or being “filled with the spirit.” You can have an evangelical answer, “Yes, I’m filled with the spirit,” and not be a Pentecostal. So we asked a series of questions. We did ask about their church, but we also asked about practices, such as speaking in tongues and so forth, that allowed us to categorize the charismatics. But we’re very up front in the report, that’s—that was the most difficult of the categories to include.
MEAD: It was interesting to me, and obviously, here at the Council on Foreign Relations we are very interested in the political impact and the international impact of this. And one of the interesting things I found was here in the United States and abroad, Pentecostal renewalists seemed in general more supportive of measures to make a country, including the United States, a, quote, “Christian” country than other groups of Christians. The question is interesting. You ask, “Do you favor steps, special steps, to make this a Christian country?” What do you think people meant when they answered that question?
LUGO: This was the single question that drove us to do this survey. I mean, we knew it was the 100 th anniversary, so that was special. We knew that the numbers were large, so any movement that would constitute, if there were a world religion, maybe the third or fourth largest in the world—you know, you have to pay attention to, particularly in this age when religion is taking on more—a more public role. We’re really looking at public religions in the modern world, to use the title of Jose Casanova’s book.
So it was politics. I mean, we’re the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. That’s our natural inclination. And as we tracked these movements, what we began to notice is that more and more, in places like Brazil, these folks were running for congress and getting elected; in places like Zambia, which had a Pentecostal president; in Guatemala. So we began to wonder whether the traditional image of these folks as apolitical really stood up to scrutiny, and I think one of the most interesting findings here of these surveys is that Pentecostals are at least as politically oriented as other Christians in these societies, and on several measures even more so. And the question you raise is one of those in which they tend to be a bit more politically oriented than some of the other Christians.
MEAD: What do you think they mean when they say they want to see their country take special steps to be a Christian country? I mean, ban the sale of alcohol on Sunday? Does it mean only a Christian can be elected to office? I mean, what are we talking here?
LUGO: That’s an excellent question, and because of the great diversity, we more or less have to leave it for people to fill that in. We did contrast, though, that with a separation of church and state kind of question, so at the very least we wanted to get some reading of that. And frankly, I think some of the other religion and politics questions are fairly straightforward. You went right for the most difficult one, as you are with all your questions, Walter. We’ll talk later. (Scattered laughter.)
But this is difficult, because there was a strong degree of support. The majority of Pentecostal publics in most of these countries supported a separation of church and state, but there were also, in those same contexts, strong minorities who said that the countries ought to take special steps to make the country Christian. What does that mean?
Our sense—from other readings, not necessarily from the survey; we don’t get this—is that most of the time, Pentecostals are talking about getting Christians to participate in being elected, some acknowledgement of Christian values in the public square. We don’t pick up much among general Pentecostal publics that there’s anything closely resembling a theocratic agenda out there for this—among other reasons because there’s nothing comparable to Shari’a law, let’s say, within the Christian tradition. And so I think they would be hard-pressed and I think they would disagree with each other over precisely what does that mean.
We just thought it was a good sentiment to try to gauge, particularly when asked in conjunction with the separation question. I’m sure you noticed, Walter, that in Nigeria we got some of the highest numbers for taking special steps to make the country a Christian country, and that, I think, is something we’ll want to explore here—the relationship between Christianity and Islam in Africa, but in other contexts as well.
MEAD: In fact, that was going to be my next question, because it’s very clear that Pentecostalism is growing rapidly in a number of countries that are on that kind of dividing line historically between Muslim Africa and non-Muslim Africa. And both are strong missionary faiths, both are growing, and there seems to be a collision shaping up. What does your survey tell us about this?
LUGO: Certainly an increasing interface. Whether it will result in a collision, we will see. But there’s no question that Pentecostalism within the two-point-some-billion Christians in the world is the fastest growing movement. If you look at our survey response to the question on evangelism—that is, trying to convert others—no one was more committed in principle to that idea than Pentecostals, even more than evangelicals, and no one actually said that they did it more—I mean, on a weekly basis, they’re trying to covert people. In Guatemala, I think a third of Guatemalan Pentecostals said that on a daily basis they try to convert someone. So I felt like entitling that chart, Walter, “No wonder they’re growing.” Because, I mean, no one is more oriented towards outreach than are Pentecostals.
And in a place like Africa, you’re quite correct, you know, mentioning the religious demography. To put it very simply, we’re running out of animists in Africa. Islam and Christianity, these two very large and very outwardly oriented forces, have basically captured the African continent. There are very few traditional African religionists left. So the question does come up, well, you’re getting very close to a zero-sum game. You can only keep growing at the expense of the other large community, and that I think is going to generate increasing tensions.
Questions about anti-conversion laws, which are already bubbling in several places, not just in Africa, will become increasingly important and draw the attention of U.S. foreign policy, because what we have to put together with this discussion is that what we’ve seen in the last few years is the increasing organization of religious groups, including evangelicals and others, around foreign policy issues. And religious freedom, religious persecution was in fact the primary issue that brought these folks into a serious foreign policy engagement. So I think this is going to be a serious consideration on the U.S. foreign policy agenda going forward.
MEAD: I was struck by the way how in a lot of these countries you’re looking at Pentecostals were both substantially more pro-Zionist, pro-Israel in the Middle East, and in favor—
MEAD: I mean, you people asked an incredibly provocative poll question: Do you support the U.S.-led war on terror? And in a number of these countries, especially in Africa, you got some very high “yes” answers to that among Pentecostals. What’s going on?
LUGO: Well, in all of the—
MEAD: Is Hugo Chavez right that these missionaries are agents of the CIA? Is that—(laughter)—
LUGO: Actually, Latin America is where they had the least support for the U.S.-led war on terror, and in several other countries, particularly where there has been a Muslim issue—the Philippines, for instance, which was the highest level of support --
MEAD: Ninety-seven percent.
LUGO: Oh, it was just huge. It rivals Pentecostals in the U.S. on this. Nigeria was huge; very interesting. Now, the numbers there were not as high for the overall population because of the Christian-Muslim split. In fact, if I recall correctly, there was a 55-point split between Nigerian Christian and Nigerian Muslims on that question. So very, very different takes on this. Within India as well, just about everywhere where you had some issue related to Islam in their own country, there tended to be much higher levels of support for the U.S.-led war on terror. And again, that has obvious foreign policy implications.
MEAD: I was talking with—one of the people who’s here in our audience this morning said that he’s just back from Guatemala, where he saw Pentecostal churches in Guatemala City all had the Israeli flag in front of them, were flying the Israeli flag. What is that all about?
LUGO: Well, that’s another thing that I think is connected to the pro-Israel sentiment, and I think it’s older and deeper than the Islam issue. And that is that Pentecostals accept much of the same view of the end times, or eschatology, as we become used to American evangelicals believing. In fact, they—but the difference is they believe it even more strongly. I was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as referring to Pentecostals as turbo-charged evangelicals, and in many ways they are. So think of American evangelicals and their support for Israel—we’ve had an event here, which actually I was the interviewer for—and it’s even higher among Pentecostals. So these folks, both in their religious practices and in several of these beliefs concerning the second coming of Christ, you know, support for Israel, are even more evangelical than evangelicals on this topic.
You often use—I’ve heard you use the term “hot religion,” Walter, to describe emerging religious movements throughout the world that have a—demand strong adherence. Within Christianity, this is the hottest of the hot. I mean, it’s sizzling with Pentecostalism, and I think it shows on issues such as support for Israel—even higher than America evangelicals, on that.
MEAD: One question I had—you don’t really deal with China in the survey; it’s not one of the countries—is the house church movement in China—is that strongly influenced by Pentecostalism?
LUGO: The answer is yes, but we don’t have any numbers on this. I’d love to do a survey on religion in China, particularly in the lead-up to the Olympics in ‘08. Extremely difficult, from everybody that I’ve spoken to, to broach these kinds of issues within China, but all the anecdotal evidence is that indeed it’s growing and led by Pentecostal evangelical kinds of movements. But I always recall here the famous dictum of my good friend John Dilulio, another political scientist who said—who always reminds folks that the plural of anecdotes is not data. And I think we have to keep that in mind when it comes to China.
MEAD: Right. What are some of the other countries besides the ones in this survey where, from your information, Pentecostalism is a serious factor?
LUGO: Well, I think it’s a serious factor in many, many countries. You know, we picked three in Latin America. We could have picked others where they’re having quite an impact, you know, in places like Colombia, for instance. So this is—it’s very widespread. These are by no means the only countries. In fact, I think if you think of Christianity in the developing world—you know, Africa, Asia, in Latin America—it’s a good bet that in just about every single one of those countries where there are significant Christian populations, it’s being driven by Pentecostalism.
I mean, I was stunned, to be honest with you, at the extent to which Latin America, for instance, had become Pentecostalized. It’s hard to find. And our survey house came back—this is Princeton’s Survey Research International, with whom we work, and then they contract with the folks on the ground. Keep in mind, these are all face-to-face interviews, you know, conducted by locals and so forth. It took three months out in the field to try to do these countries. But they came back and, in the case of Guatemala, and said, “Well, we know you said you wanted us to interview Pentecostals and charismatics, but you also wanted to interview other Christians, and we’re having problems finding, you know, the other Christians,” because everybody was identifying as Pentecostal or charismatic. And the numbers in Guatemala—for instance, 85 percent of all Protestants in Guatemala are Pentecostal. And that’s a growing portion of the population, by the way. We rolled out these results last week in Los Angeles, and one of the keynote speakers at this conference was the pastor of one of the major Pentecostal networks in Guatemala—it’s called El Shaddai—and he was stunned by some of our findings. We actually found that Catholics now constitute a minority in Guatemala, 48 percent, and Protestantism has been growing apace there, driven by Pentecostalism.
MEAD: Among American Hispanics, what was your information on the prevalence of renewalist Christianity?
LUGO: Well, if I may use this for a little advertisement, actually today we’re getting back from the field the results of a major religion and public life among Hispanics in this country, which we are doing with the Pew Hispanic Center, one of our sister projects. So we’ll have a much more definitive answer on that, because the numbers there will be much larger than for this survey.
But I will tell you, based on the breakdown of those figures, that Pentecostalism in this country tends to be disproportionately minority. That is to say that African-Americans constitute a larger percentage of the Pentecostal community than they do of the population; Latinos even more so. And I think because of some of the conversions that are taking place, but also, increasingly, Pentecostals who are coming across the border. If you have a Guatemalan Protestant who’s an immigrant, the chances are they’re going to be Pentecostal. So we are picking that up more and more. So a large percentage of the Pentecostal community in this country is minority.
I mentioned the Assemblies of God, which is the largest predominantly white denomination, but in fact the single largest Pentecostal denomination in this country is African-American, the Church of God in Christ.
MEAD: And this goes right back to the Azusa Street revivals, where African-Americans were a major—
LUGO: In fact, the preacher who led the revival, William Seymour, is African-American, from the Midwest, converted to Pentecostalism, went out to L.A. to lead some revivals. And in the early phases, it was a remarkably diverse movement ethnically. There were a lot of Latinos, a lot of Anglos who were part of that, and that’s one of the things that’s scandalized. If you look at the early coverage in the Los Angeles Daily Times, as it was then called—some marvelous coverage of this—this is one of the things that they note; they say, you know, what’s going on here with this racial thing? Because Pentecostalism seemed to be transcending some of those deep ethnic and racial divides.
MEAD: Well, I think the ghost of Max Weber stalks almost all discussions of religion and religious change in the world. Are there signs that this Pentecostal movement is part of a modernization process or economic development process? What’s your sense of that, from what you see?
LUGO: Well, I thought the survey findings on that were really quite interesting. First of all, on the question of globalization and the links with trade and communications and so forth, I was surprised just generally how positive people were, with respect to—not just Pentecostals, but people in the nine countries outside the U.S. that we polled in this. I would have expected perhaps to find a bit more ambivalence on the globalization issue. In fact, there was fairly strong support that on balance this is good for their societies. Pentecostals are at least as supportive as others of that.
Also, a high level of entrepreneurial orientation in these folks. Again, the question on whether you’d rather have your own business or work for others, high percentage of people say, now, we’d rather have our own business.
MEAD: Truer for Pentecostals than for the general population?
LUGO: It’s basically the same for Pentecostals as the general population.
LUGO: What’s different about Pentecostals is their sense of economic hope, which there they do stand out. They tend to be more hopeful than the other populations in these various countries that their future is going to be better. They didn’t assess their current financial situation much differently than others, but in terms of looking forward and economic optimism, they stood out with respect to that as well.
MEAD: What do you think of the comparison people sometimes make to Pentecostals as kind of the Wesleyan Methodists of today? You know, playing a similar role in preparing poor people, maybe recently moved into the city and so on, for a modern existence, building civil society through these self-governed institutions? Is that—
LUGO: I think that’s happening. We asked a question there about participation in small groups—you know, whether it’s Bible studies or prayer meetings and so forth. No one is more organized than Pentecostals. The Pentecostal communities have proven remarkably adept at integrating internal migrants within these societies. You know, the Guatemalan peasant who moves to Guatemala City, all the evidence suggests, and our surveys bear it out, that no one is more effective at reaching those folks and at keeping them involved than are Pentecostals, and I think that helps to explain the reason for their growth. And when they do that, Walter, I think people like Tocqueville and others no doubt would observe that you’re building there the kind of social capital—you know, working with small groups, taking on leadership opportunities, never mind stopping some things.
I mean, this is why Pentecostalism is so popular with women in many of these countries, because they do demand that—you know, no more alcohol, no more messing around sexually, no more betting. You need to devote your resources to the church and to the family. And so women are particularly supportive in those societies where gambling or drinking is not just a social issue, it’s a very important economic survival issue. So I think that, over the long run, will have long-term consequences in building up civil society, and it’s happening. Guatemala’s a great example. The gentleman I mentioned, in fact, is about to open a university in Guatemala, and we’re seeing increasing levels of education and economic attainment on the part of Pentecostals. It is no longer the case that they simply minister to the poor and remain poor. There is some upward mobility that is happening there, and I think Weber would observe. And as Peter Berger, a great sociologist of religion, stated recently, Max Weber is alive and well and living in Guatemala City. (Laughter.)
MEAD: All right, well, listen. I think it’s time now to move to the stage of the meeting where we’ll ask for broader participation and more questions from the audience. So please, when you do this, please wait for the microphone when I call on you. Speak into the microphone, and begin by stating your name and affiliation. And I would also hope that you will try to make a question of your comment, if that is at all possible. (Laughter.)
QUESTIONER: Just a question of clarification: Where do the Mormons fit into this?
LUGO: Very good question. And before we proceed, let me just—Walter, I want to invite you to enter in, particularly with the hard questions but with the others as well, because you know a lot about this stuff, and so I’m hoping you don’t just hold back on us but give us your take on this.
MEAD: I’ll sharpen the questions for you.
LUGO: Sharpen—well, or weigh in on them. That’s fine. We’re among family here, you know.
Mormons—Mormons have a very interesting fit in the constellation of Christian traditions, and of course everybody’s very much thinking about that question with respect to Mitt Romney and his potential candidacy, and particularly how will evangelicals, who are so important within the Republican Party, respond to something like that. And it’s not an easy one to answer. Mormons have collaborated with evangelicals on a lot of the culture war issues, from abortion to gay marriage. But historically, I think at the very least there’s been tremendous skepticism among evangelicals and others with respect to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS or Mormons, because of the revelation question—you know, the subsequent revelation that was received. And for evangelicals, that’s tended to call into question the authority of the Bible. And so I would think that for most Christians—I think this is an accurate statement—Mormons are on the margins of the Christian tradition, and many, many mainstream Christians suspect that—you’d be hard-pressed to classify them as Christians.
Having said that, I’ll tell you, we didn’t report the numbers, but anecdotally we picked up a lot of Mormon Pentecostals in Latin—I mean, Pentecostalism is so widespread in Latin America that even Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, several of them, classified as Pentecostals, which is really quite, quite remarkable. But that’s also, you know, a growing force in Latin America and other places, so it definitely bears watching as well.
MEAD: I would think that Pentecostal Jehovah’s Witnesses would probably be the most active evangelizers—
LUGO: You’re absolutely right. They get it from all—
MEAD: I mean, I can’t conceive of a more determined group.
Yes, sir, in the back.
LUGO: If I may just add here, because, you know, the same thing I said about evangelical and others’ view of Mormons historically has also been true of Pentecostals.
LUGO: Because one of the things you’ll see in this report is that Pentecostals have a very lively sense of supernatural intervention, very lively. Nowhere else in the Christian traditions do you have that. And one of the things that they believe in is what they call the gift of prophecy, and they do believe that God continues to communicate in extraordinary ways to his people. Now—
So one of the interesting findings here, and I’ve put this already to some evangelical leaders, is that if that’s the case, you would suspect then that Pentecostals wouldn’t have such a high view of Scripture—you know, the Bible—as others, because after all, they can supplement it in other ways. Well, that just didn’t pan out. Pentecostals are at least—in fact, in most cases even more likely than other Christians to hold a very high view of scripture. So whatever that gift of prophecy is for, in revelations for Pentecostals, it’s not undermining their faith in the Bible.
Really, my sense is that the nature of those prophecies and revelations have to do more with sort of prudential questions about, you know, should I take this job or not take the job, et cetera, rather than adding new content to the Bible, which most Christians will say the Book of Mormon does do that. You know, it adds content to the Bible.
So I think this is, you know, a conversation going forth between evangelicals and Pentecostals on this question of scripture. And it’s already beginning to happen, sort of Catholic and evangelical-Pentecostal dialogues going on all over the place.
QUESTIONER: Yes. Andrew Selee from the Woodrow Wilson Center.
I’m wondering, actually, about the socioeconomic background of the Pentecostal movement and if you’re seeing conversion among the elites to Pentecostalism. Or are Pentecostals primarily among the lower-middle class and the poor, and eventually becoming influential over time? In places like Guatemala or Brazil, I mean, are the elites converting, or are Pentecostals moving into the political—
LUGO: I think both things are happening. I think both because of some of the—you know, taking on practices like, you know, not getting drunk and so forth, they are—the savings is increasing. They’re putting more effort into education.
It’s interesting, when we ask about the economic success—faith in God was first and foremost, but closely behind was hard work and education. So I think Pentecostals increasingly are turning their attention to that. And some of them in places like Guatemala, where they’ve become large enough, they’re now targeting elite sectors of society—you know, journalism, the university, et cetera. So I think both things are happening: upward mobility, but also targeting people at the higher echelons of society.
QUESTIONER: Thanks. Garrett Mitchell from The Mitchell Report.
I want to ask a question that I think is going to sound not in the way that’s intended, but let me do it anyway and maybe Walter can sharpen it. And I’ll ask it in the way it came to me.
The first question was, is the trajectory—does one—I’m going to be purposely simplistic here. Does one begin as an evangel and become a Pentecostal—get hotter? Or does one start as a Pentecostal and over time get cooler? Is one marijuana and one heroin?
And here’s the connecting question, and I mean it seriously, which is, why are these distinctions important? Why should we care about this? And I say that as someone who, for example, has read Walter’s piece, which I think is excellent and we’re all very interested. But—so fine, why should we care?
LUGO: Well, let me start with the second question. And I think the reason we should care—and by “we” here, I mean people who are interested in world affairs—is because what we’ve seen in the last, you know, 20, 30 years, which is for a variety of reasons, which we can get into, people more and more are turning to their religious identity to define their public identity.
We see this in some of the polls that our colleagues at the Pew Global Attitudes Project, that they do in the Muslim world. You know, look at their figures on the number of Turks who identify primarily as Muslim rather than Turks. I think this whole question of identity, especially public identity, has undergone a fairly radical shift in the last 20, 30 years. And some of the old categories, which were mostly imported European ideologies of one kind or another—whether it’s nationalism or socialism—have been in fairly rapid retreat—again, for a variety of reasons.
And what seems to be taking their place is religious identity becoming the driving force of public identity. And you know, this was happening—I remember being a graduate student studying for my Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in the late ‘70s. And you know, studying all these models of modernization, all of which posited that with increasing development and so forth, religion would become less and less of a factor—even in people’s private lives, never mind in public life.
And here I am, you know, picking up The New York Times, The Washington Post and others, and, you know, front page, there’s an Islamic evolution in Pakistan, followed quickly by Iran. You know, the BJP is becoming organized in India; you know, the Moral Majority is formed in this country in 1979; all kinds of debates about liberation theology in Latin America. There’s a new pope, you know, who is bent now on giving Catholicism a much broader, public—I saw it just across religious traditions—in Israel too with Likud and others. To me it was happening everywhere. And it was the disconnect between the theories I was studying in the textbooks and what I was reading in the front page of the newspapers that was so jolting to me.
I think we have to put, you know, the question of “Why is this important?” in that broader context. If indeed this is what’s happening, and you have a movement that is at least half a billion strong now—with this very strong evangelistic orientation—and a movement, which, according to our surveys, is not apolitical like most people thought, then, you know, one has to ask the question, what possible role in the future will Pentecostalism have in shaping world affairs?
And I think we’ve already seen certain snippets of this, you know, with the South Korean Pentecostals who turned up in Afghanistan, remember, and you know, the imams weren’t all that keen on it. Now, they came in under an economic development kind of agenda, but they were South Korean Pentecostal Christians.
And the missionary impulse of Pentecostalism from south to south—and of course, they’re also coming north; that’s another interesting question. I think the whole issue of Christian immigration to Europe is very much under the radar. We’ve been paying a lot of attention, for obvious reasons, to Muslim immigration to Europe, but there’s significant Christian immigration as well, including Pentecostal. The single largest congregation in Europe today is led—and you’re seeing stories all the sudden on this—by Sunday Adela, who’s the pastor of a church in Kiev, Ukraine, of all places. The new mayor, by the way, is a member of that congregation.
So this—I think this is going to have a broad impact on world affairs, if the findings of our surveys are right, that these people are growing, very intense, very hot in their religiosity and increasingly publicly oriented in terms of their outlook.
MEAD: You’re reminding me of The Economist story, I guess not long ago, saying that London now has the highest percentage of churchgoers in England, because of the—(inaudible). (Speaking of The Economist ?) Adrian—
LUGO: Yeah, that’s right.
QUESTIONER: (Off mike.)
MEAD: Microphone, please.
Adrian just came back from Guatemala.
QUESTIONER: Yeah, I’m just back last night at midnight from Guatemala City. And I can say that I think you’re underestimating the importance and interest of Pentecostalism. I mean, it’s a very amazing thing.
But I was just reading Harvey Cox’s rather old book on “Fire From Heaven.” And one of the points he makes in that is that we’re seeing the Pentecostalization not just of Catholicism but of parts of Islam. Do you think that’s possible in any sense? Are you saying that you’re seeing an imitation—they’re competing with Pentecostalists and they’re beginning to imitate not just the way that they recruit people but also the way that they worship, and the idea of having a much more intimate, spirit-filled relationship with God? Is that just nonsense or does it mean anything?
LUGO: It’s above my pay grade. Walter, I don’t know if you want to weigh in on that.
But yeah, I just would pay attention from any comments that come out of anybody from the University of Chicago or the East—as I call Harvard. And so it’s worth paying attention to.
Cox, as you know, is one of those who has gone from the “secular city” to sort of “fire from heaven.” Peter Berger went through the same transition—you know, very much into secularization theory and then being hit by a two-by-four of reality and sort of reconsidering.
But I don’t know. I mean, I guess I suppose this gets into the whole issue of Sufi traditions within Islam and how they’re playing out, you know, within the Muslim world. I mean, it’s an interesting comment, Adrian, but I really don’t have anything to say at this point. I do find it intriguing though.
MEAD: I think you could argue that for a lot of Muslims, the things that Pentecostalism offers in areas where they’re competitive would be this very strong, organized congregational life, which is not always the case in a mosque situation. Charismatic—not in the Pentecostal sense—but preachers who are well-known and stars. To some degree, the phenomenon of television imams in the Muslim world is sort of, you could argue, is an Americanization of Islamic practice—of these stars.
And also, the miraculous in daily life—the exorcisms, the healings that are very much part of Luis’s survey, are the kind of things, you know, if your religion is the true religion, well, you ought to be able to cast out more demons than these other folks, or heal more people.
So I imagine there’s competition along those lines and people then—and I think the intimate contact with the deity that Pentecostalism offers, in terms of the spirit. In Wahhabi Islam that’s a little difficult to achieve in quite that way. But Sufism—I mean, there are elements in Islam which, some (inaudible), like Sufism, historically originated in part as a counterpart to the mystic tradition in Christianity and other Middle Eastern religions.
So, you know, I would well imagine that you would see conscious efforts to looking into one’s own tradition. What would we have that matches that?
LUGO: I would add organizationally there are some very interesting similarities between Islam and Pentecostalism, in the sense that it’s so decentralized. I mean, literally anybody, you know, can set up shop—and whether you succeed or fail depends on how effective you are in bringing people into the congregation.
So the same question that’s being asked, you know, about who speaks for Islam—because of its very decentralized nature—to the extent, you know, Pentecostalism becomes even more politically engaged and has a broader impact on world affairs, it won’t be long before you’re being asked that question: Who speaks from Pentecostalism—for Pentecostalism? In fact, no single person does. It’s very decentralized.
The Vatican just started, you know, an ecumenical relationship that’s focused on questions of gifts of the Spirit and the baptism of the Spirit, and how does that, you know, play out within Catholicism and Pentecostalism. I’ve been trying to track down who are the Pentecostals, you know, that they’re speaking to? Because there’s not even anything like the World Lutheran Federation—I know there’s somebody here who’s worked for that.
So when the Vatican wanted to get to business in talking to Lutherans about, you know, the divisive doctrine of justification by faith that historically divided Protestants, I mean, I think they were able to identify fairly quickly who were the key Lutherans out there—the key Lutheran organizations. I don’t know how you do that with Pentecostalism at this point, to be very honest with you.
MEAD: Yes, ma’am; this lady here.
QUESTIONER: Carmen Delgado Votaw, Alliance for Children and Families.
In Puerto Rico, one of the manifestations of the Pentecostalism fever is that they buy all the radio stations and then utilize the power of the radio to communicate with people that don’t communicate in other ways.
It has been very interesting also that they are reported to give very sizeable political contributions to candidates in order to get them into political office. Have you seen that kind of pattern repeating itself in some of these countries?
LUGO: Yes, it is. It’s repeating itself in many countries. By the way, Puerto Rico will be part of our Hispanic survey. We always include Puerto Rico, for comparison purposes, with other Hispanics. So that will be in this Hispanic survey we’ll be releasing in early December, I believe. I have to start in earnest to write it up.
But that is happening. What tends to happen in the early phase is that, you know, these folks tend to be fairly isolated from the mainstream of society and they begin to build up their own infrastructure. You know, Pentecostalism serves like an incubator where these folks come in. And, you know, they can’t get air time on mainstream, so “all right, we’ll establish our own radio stations.” “And well, we don’t get the respect that we want; well, we’ll found our own colleges.”
And you know, this is the—(inaudible)—thing again—you know, very socially entrepreneurial. They begin to build these, much like happened with evangelicals in this country. I mean, most people didn’t notice evangelicals until the Moral Majority, but these people just didn’t cease to exist, you know, for most of the 20 th century. They were building up a very robust educational, communications and publications and other kinds of networks, which, when they turn their attention to politics, you know, then they can then redirect some of those same resources for political outreach.
So the fact that they’re apolitical at a certain point in time—and I’ve said this about Pentecostals for a long time—doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to use some of those same mechanisms, once they turn political. And I think we’re now seeing that in Pentecostalism big time throughout Latin America and other parts of the world.
QUESTIONER: Harry Heintzen, USIA, retired.
I’d like to know a little bit more about what Pentecostals believe, what their dogma is, how it might differ from Catholic or mainstream Protestant denominations, and whether that has a bearing on whether it’s a social outreach and euphoria that carries people with it.
LUGO: Yeah, excellent question.
I mean, in a sense, you’re beginning at the beginning, which is to say, what’s a Pentecostal? What are their distinguishing characteristics?
You know, think of Pentecostalism as a renewal movement within Christianity, a renewal movement that emphasizes, in particular, the gifts of the third person of the Trinity—you know, the Holy Spirit—very, very much emphasis upon that.
Pentecostals are of the view that other Christians, you know, have paid a lot of attention to the Father and the Son, and not much to the Holy Spirit. So they really do focus on that and the gifts of the Spirit. You know, that is a classic Pentecostal mark. In this country it manifested itself a lot with speaking in tongues, for instance—you know, divine healings, exorcisms, et cetera. All of that are manifestations of the present day-to-day role of the Holy Spirit.
For most Christians—I mean, most Christians would affirm, of course, the Holy Spirit, but they don’t have, like Pentecostals, this very deep sense of the Spirit’s involvement in everyday life in making all kinds of decisions—including political decisions. So I think that’s—that’s very much a distinguishing feature.
If you go to Pentecostal worship services, you will see those on display—people being healed, demons being cast out, you know, people speaking in tongues, et cetera; whereas, you would not see that, let’s say, in your typical evangelical church in any of these countries.
So think of Pentecostals as having some distinctive practices, both in terms of their corporate worship, as well as their individual worship. But then on those things which they share with other Christians—like, you know, belief in the Bible and all—they are super orthodox in those beliefs. You know, they affirm those beliefs even more strongly than other Christians.
Church attendance is another one. You know, according to our findings, no one attends church more often than Pentecostals—no other Christian community. And again, it’s part of their community building and small groups and all that. So they’re distinctive too in the intensity with which they hold to traditional Christian teachings, as well as holding some very distinctive practices and teachings that other Christians would not share.
MEAD: They look on the church in Acts, the Book of Acts, as not merely sort of ethically or doctrinally normative for Christianity, but if the apostles are casting out demons—if you’re doing it right, the same things that happened in the Book of Acts should be happening in your church.
LUGO: That’s right.
MEAD: And the Pentecostal movement itself comes from the feast of Pentecost when the Spirit is said to have descended on the apostles and the disciples who were gathered in prayer, enabling them to speak in other languages. And all the people in Jerusalem, who had come from all over the Eastern Mediterranean, each is said to have heard them speaking in his or her own language.
So that this notion that the divine miracles that are recounted of the life of the early church should be happening in every church and to every believer all the time is very, very much, I would say, a key to it.
LUGO: That’s right.
Now, other Christians would point to those passages in Acts and say: “Absolutely. That happened. It was part of the burst of activity by which God basically put his imprimatur”—to use an old Catholic term—“upon the apostles and upon the Bible as it was being formed.”
But for most Christians, again, once you have the authoritative document—you know, the Bible—then there is a tailing off of that miraculous activity which served to certify its truthfulness. Pentecostals, as Walter says, say, “No, no, no, that wasn’t just for that point in time; these are gifts that should continue throughout”—until kingdom come, literally.
MEAD: Yes, sir.
QUESTIONER: Walter Cutler, also former Foreign Service.
I wanted—it’s very useful, this very basic description of what’s a Pentecostal. Would you do the same thing for an evangelist and how the two relate or overlap?
MEAD: Evangelist or evangelical?
LUGO: Evangelical, I think.
QUESTIONER: Evangelical, right—I’m sorry.
LUGO: Take away what we said about the supernatural gifts of the spirit, but affirm everything else in terms of a basic Christian orthodoxy—very strong evangelical—you know, evangelistic orientation, which is trying to convert folks, and you’ve got evangelicalism.
I mean, they’re really cousin movements. You know, they both are renewal movements that come out of mainstream Protestantism in this country. But at the beginning, they were competing renewal movements, as I mentioned, because evangelicals were really skeptical of all of this speaking in tongues and prophesies and so forth.
I think what you see now is they’re, you know, sort of re-emerging and re-merging with one another. But for a particular point in time, they did diverge over this question of the gifts of the Spirit. But Pentecostals would affirm all of the traditional doctrines that evangelicals would affirm—in fact, if our findings are correct, even more strongly than evangelicals.
So think of it as evangelicalism-plus. And the plus is these distinctive teachings about the role of the Holy Spirit. That’s why I call them “turbo-charged evangelicals.”
MEAD: Historically it comes out of a tradition of Wesleyan pietism and American—the Great Awakening revival traditions where there was a concern first with the conversion experience, where you accept Christ as your savior, which is kind of the keynote of what would happen at a Billy Graham meeting or something like that.
MEAD: But then there’s a second experience or second stage of sanctification: becoming holy—that’s why they call it the “holiness movement”—where there is a second blessing, beyond one simply converts to Christianity. One becomes a much better Christian whose life is much more deeply caught up in the divine life.
And so the Pentecostals end up believing there is a second baptism. The first baptism is your baptism in water when you accept Christ. There’s a second baptism in the Holy Spirit. They call it the baptism of fire, after the tongues of flames in the Book of Acts.
So evangelicals are like Pentecostals, but they really look at the first blessing in conversion as the main entrance point into the Christian life. And from there, there’s a somewhat gradual process of sanctification. The Pentecostals believe there is a distinct second blessing, which may or may not occur contemporaneously with the first.
LUGO: That’s right, which manifests itself not in some quiet movement towards holiness, but in a very supernatural—
MEAD:—the conversion experience—
LUGO: That’s right.
MEAD:—emotionally overwhelming, in a way, as the conversion experience could be.
Yes, ma’am. You’ve been waiting very patiently.
QUESTIONER: Where does this really leave—well, in the United States—mainline Protestantism, and in the developing world, Orthodox Christianity? Are people just turned off now by these authoritarian formats? Is that the case? Is the desire for a participatory form so intense that there’s no hope for Presbyterians and Anglicans and Methodists?
LUGO: Yeah, well—
MEAD: Or Catholics in Latin America, which is the real—
LUGO: Yeah, you know the Catholic Church, when this charismatic renewal started, it was actually, you know, in this country at Duquesne University, of all places. It was a major sort of Catholic charismatic renewal. The Roman Catholic Church, you know, looked at it bit askance, but it didn’t shove it off, and it sort of kept its eye on it and nurtured it along, et cetera.
I think the church has come to the view that Pentecostal practices are quite consistent with Roman Catholicism. And as I said, there’s now a major dialogue going on in these areas. In the Catholic charismatic renewal there’s an organization with the blessings of the Vatican, you know, an international Catholic charismatic renewal with hundreds of millions of people. I mean, this is huge. And so I think Catholicism is sort of making its peace with that movement.
You know, the whole issue of mainline Protestantism, if you look at the religious demographics—you know, I gave a presentation on this recently and looked at it over the last 30 or 40 years. There’s absolutely no question that the religious center of gravity in this country has shifted dramatically. And it’s been away from mainline Protestantism, you know, with declining growth and, therefore, declining clout in the public square.
If you look at the figures, Roman Catholics have remained fairly steady at about 25 percent. The biggest shift has been the realignment within Protestantism with the evangelical, hotter side, you know, growing much faster than the mainline churches. And I think that’s reflecting itself.
I have to say, if you look at the moral conservatism of Christians, including Pentecostals that you see in this report, you’ll see why there are increasing tensions. Take the Anglican Communion, for instance—80 million members worldwide. I think the Episcopal Church is down to 2.3 million or something like that. Huge issues here with African bishops on the question of homosexuality, the ordination of homosexuals, gay marriage, et cetera, basically drawing the line and saying, you know, this cannot be, and partly as a defensive posture, incidentally. In many of those African countries I find it curious that it’s in those countries where there’s significant competition with Islam that this is happening—you know, places like Nigeria and Uganda and elsewhere. You know, they’re taking the lead and saying, you know, you’re killing us, basically.
By the way, in those countries, it’s hard for Pentecostals to differentiate themselves from the general population, because everybody’s morally conservative.
MEAD: Right. Ninety-nine percent disapprove of homosexuality—
LUGO: In Nigeria.
MEAD:—and 99 percent of Pentecostals disapprove.
LUGO: Precisely. So there they couldn’t distinguish themselves. In those societies that are relatively more liberal, let’s say like South Korea or the U.S., you can see that Pentecostals are even more morally conservative on those issues.
I mean, it’s an excellent question. I think you’re seeing the redrawing of the map, because, as I like to put it, Christianity is going south—I mean, literally. If you track, you know, the demographics of Christianity—some of have done this actually. I have a nice little PowerPoint presentation which shows you where that center has been since, you know, the year one. And it sort of starts—it remains in the first 1,000 years within sort of Asia Minor and that area. Then it goes West, and it’s Western Europe that’s the next phase. Then it begins to turn south so that by 1950 it’s over the Iberian Peninsula. And since then, it’s taken a radical southern and eastern turn. So that statistically speaking, if you were to divide the Christian community into quadrants, the point that would give you equal portions on all sides is almost precisely over Timbuktu in Mali, okay, which is a Muslim country.
This is just a statistical average, but what it shows you is it’s going south and turning east with—probably the world’s single most remarkable religious demographic conversion has happened in African in the last 100 years. Very few Christians in Africa in 1900. If you look at it today, it is the growth area that’s driving, you know, Catholic growth and many other growth patterns. It’s huge.
Well, listen there are a lot more questions. Tragically, the council—or some would say “tragically”; some would say “thank God”—but the council does have a tradition of ending meetings on time. So I think we’re going to have to stop.
Luis, do you have any concluding remarks—remark that you would leave us with?
LUGO: Walter that would put us over 1:30, and as I’ve told you often, one of the things that we Latinos are going to contribute to this society is that every meeting will start and end on time—(laughter)—when we’re in charge. So I’m not going to say any more.
MEAD: All right. Well, thank you all very much for coming.
Luis, thank you. (Applause.)
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